Music and Chess

| 11 | Fun & Trivia

n 1607, the first ballet with a chess theme was Ballet des Eschecs, performed for Louis XIV of France.

Francois-Andre Danican Philidor (1726-1795) was a famous music composer. He was exposed to chess by the musicians in the French king's court, who played chess during spells of inactivity. At the age of 11 he was composing music for Louis XV. He made an early living by copying music and giving music lessons. In 765 he composed the opera Tom Jones. He wrote over 20 operas in his career. The opera house in Paris has a bust of Philidor.

In 1810, Traugott Eberwein (1775-1831) composed the opera Das Schachturnier (the chess tournament).

In the 1850s, Paul Morphy (1837-1884) was able to memorise any piece of music after hearing it a single time.

In the 1860s, the chess player Armand Blackmar (1826-1888) was a music professor and music publisher.

In the 1870s, chess problemist Sam Loyd (1841-1911) owned a chain of music stores.

In the 1880s, Johannes Zukertort (1842-1888) was a music critic and pianist.

In 1910, Leevi Antii Madetoja (1887-1947) composed the suite Shakkipeli (Chess Game). It was composed for a play called Shakkipeli by Eino Leino (1878-1926).

Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch (1862-1934) once wrote, "Chess, like love, like music, has the powers to make men happy."

Eugene Znosko-Borovsky (1884-1954) was a music critic.

In 1925, Petr Petrovich Saburov ( Sabouroff ) ( -1932) composed a Love Symphony for a big orchestra. One of the pieces was called Simultaneous Games of Chess. The composition was first played in the "Concert Classique" at Monte Carlo in May, 1924. Saburov was once the president of the Pan-Russian Chess Federation and als the Petrograd Chess Club.

In 1927, Henri Rabaud (1873-1949) composed Le Jouer D'echecs (The Player of Chess). The work is the music for the film with the same name, directed by Raymond Bernard.

In the 1930s Mark Taimanov started taking piano lessons and even appeared in a film called Beethoven's Concert. He later became a concert pianist. He studied at the Leningrad Conservatory. He conducted a series of concerts throughout the USSR with his wife, Lyubov Bruk. He is included in the Philips collection of 100 greatest pianists of the 20th century.

In June 1937, a 50-minute ballet called Checkmate was performed at the Paris World Exhibition. The ballet was composed by Sir Arthur Bliss (1891-1975) and choreographed by Ninette de Valois (who knew nothing about chess). The ballet was written at the request of the Sadler's Wells Ballet for their visit to Paris in 1937.

In the 1940s, Harold Schonberg (1915-2003) was a music critic and had a passion for writing chess.

In 1945, Vittorio Rieti (1898-1994) composed Chess Serenade: suite for two pianos, four hands.

In 1947, an operetta, The Sea Cadet, was performed in London which presented a game of living chess.

In 1950 Aristocratic Records became Chess Records. This has nothing to do with the game of chess. Chess Records was founded by Leonard and Phil Chess of Chicago. It was the pre-eminent Blues label of the 1950s and 1960s. Performers included John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, and Ike Turner

In the 1950s, Bohuslav Martinu (1890-1959) composed the ballet Echec au roi (Chess of the King).

In the 1950s Vasily Smyslov (1921- ) was a fine baritone singer and auditioned for the Bolshoi theater.

In 1953, the first ballet on ice with a chess scene, Sinbad the Sailor on Ice, was performed. The skaters played out the Morphy - Duke of Brunswick game on ice. The work was composed by Reginald Charles Noel-Johnson.

In 1957, Jean Absil (1893-1974) composed Eschecs, Suite for Piano, op. 96.

In 1960, Wayne Shorter composed The Chess Players on the album The Big Beat by the band called Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.

In 1965, the blind musician Ray Charles (1930-2004) learned chess to help him kick his drug habit and help his concentration. One of his chess partners was Willie Nelson.

In 1965, Paul Reif composed Philidor's Defense: a musical chess game.

In 1966, Grace Slick sung White Rabbit for the album Conspicuous Only In Its Absence by the band Great Society. In 1967 it was recorded for the album Surrealistic Pillow by the band Jefferson Airplane. The song has several references to chess.

In 1968, John White composed Cello and Tuba Machine. The notes played by the tuba were determined by the moves of a knight on a musical chessboard.

In 1968 a ballet called Pawn to King 5 was performed in London. The music was provided by Pink Floyd.

In 1971, the group Yes, composed Your Move and included it in their The Yes Album. The lyrics were written by Jon Anderson.

In 1971, Marcia Cohen composed Chess Set; for Percussion and Electronic Tape.

In 1971, Osvaldo Lacerda composed Cromos: para Piano. One of the pieces is entitled Jogando xadrez (Playing chess).

In 1971, Ladislav Simon (1929- ) composed Sachova Dama (Chess Queen). It was a blues piece for a jazz orchestra.

In 1972, Jan Kapr (1914-1988) composed Chess Sonata for Two Pianos.

In 1973, a band called Flash wrote five songs with chess themes: None the Wiser (King), Farewall Number One (Pawn), Man of Honor (Knight), Dead Ahead (Queen), and Bishop. The album was called Out of Our Hands.

In 1973, Ned Rorem composed Day Music: for Violin and Piano. One of the pieces is called A Game of Chess Four Centuries Ago.

In 1974 the band called Gryphon composed the albumRed Queen to Gryphon Three. The album consists of four instrumental pieces called Opening Move, Second Spasm, Lament, and Checkmate.

In 1979, Sten Hanson composed The Chessmen of Mars for his John Carter Songbook.

In 1985 Rodney Waschka II composed Euwe Suite, based on chess games played by Max Euwe.

In 1986, the musical Chess, lyrics written by Tim Rice, was produced. It was the most expensive musical play ever put together, costing over $4 million. The music was composed by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus (both formerly of ABBA). The musical was inspired by the Fischer-Spassky World Championship match.

In 1986, Adrian Cruft composed Chess Pieces (for Trumpet and Piano).

In 1986, Michael Nyman composed The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. This is an opera that has a neurologist playing one of his patients.

In 1986, Juan Maria Solare composed Ajedrez I y II (Chess I and II). The piece is based on a poem by Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) title Ajedres.

In 1987 Wolfgang von Stuermer and Dietrich Eichman composed Game and Earnest. It is a piece for two players performing at a chessboard.

In 1988, the Broadway production of Chess opened, but it lost $6 million and closed after 68 performances.

In 1990, a ballet called Ana, choreographed by Chopinet, was performed based on Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass. It included a chess game being played.

In 1992, Juan Maria Solare composed Benoni for Flute, Clarinet and Violoncello.

In 1993, Aake Parmerud composed Jeux Imaginaires. It is based upon a game between Karpov and Kasparov played in the 1992 World Chess Championship.

In 1994, Dougie MacLean composed the albumMarching Mystery. One of the songs is about the Isle of Lewis chessmen (the marching mystery).

In 1996, a short opera, Sketches of Chess was written for two sopranos and a chessboard. It is based on a chess game between Kasparov and Ljubojevic played in Brussels in 1987.

In 1997, the band called Isildurs Bane composed MIND Volume I. Throughout the song, the moves of a chess game are recited.

Musicians who played chess: Jean Absil (composer), Jon Anderson (Yes), Thomas Beecham (English conductor), Ludwig Beethoven, Art Blakey (jazz musician), Sir Arthur Bliss (Master of the Queen's Music), Alex Borodin (Russian composer), David Bowie, Adolf Brodsky (violinist and conductor), Clifford Brown (jazz musician), John Cage, Enrico Caruso, Pablo Casals (cellist), Ray Charles, Chopin, Bobby Darin, Neil Diamond, Antonin Dvorak, Mischa Ehlman (violinist), Ferenc Erkel, Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Goffin (songwriter), Leo Kahn (violinist), Gene Krupa (drummer), John and Lennon, John Lill (pianist), Johnny Marks (wrote Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer), Felix Mendelssohn, Yehudi Menuhin, Modest Mussorgsky, Graham Nash (Crosby, Stills, and Nash), Willie Nelson, David Oistrakh (violinist), Yoko Ono, Philidor, Gregor Piatigorsky (cellist), Sergei Prokofiev (composer), Helen Reddy, Ruggiero Ricci, Tim Rice, Sviatoslav Richter, N. Rimsky-Korsakov, Monz Rosenthal (pianist), , Arthur Rubinstein (pianist), Robert Schumann, Dmitri Shostakovich (composer), Ringo Starr, Isaac Stern, Sting, Richard Strauss, Bjorn Ulvaeus (ABBA), Giuseppe Verdi (composer), Heitor Villa-Lobos, Paul Whiteman (jazz musician), Rudolf Wilmers (pianist), and Tadeusz Wronski (composer).

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